While planning ahead for the end can seem quite morose, it’s something we all must face eventually. Of course, when we think of things like estate planning, we seldom consider our online presence.
Considering how connected we all seem to be these days, there’s often a lot about us online.
There are our social media profiles, email accounts, and, in some cases, even financial accounts. Countless apps store all sorts of personal data, and that’s why it’s important to always secure our accounts.
Further, we should ensure it’s easy for our loved ones to access these accounts when the necessary time comes. Otherwise, they may be left jumping through lots and lots of difficult hoops.
Your Digital Legacy
First of all, you should compile a list of websites where you have profiles or accounts. This includes social media websites as well as financial and shopping sites. Every site handles death differently but granting access to your loved ones can make things much easier.
For example, PayPal merely requires a login and password to withdraw funds and close an account. Without this login information, however, there are several steps required in order to empty and close an account. The site will require a copy of your will, if there is one. If not, it gets even more complicated.
Your Social Media Profiles
As for social websites, some have memorialization features that will keep your account alive after you die. That is, if you or your relatives so wish.
For Facebook and Instagram accounts, they can either be memorialized or deleted. Memorial pages essentially keep the account active but adds “Remembering” in front of the user’s name. People can leave comments, but certain other features are disabled.
To instead delete an account, a request must be placed, and proof of authority is required. A copy of the death certificate will also need to be provided to the site.
Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn
These sites don’t have the same ongoing memorial feature as Facebook and Instagram. In just about every case, your loved ones will need to provide these sites with several things.
For Twitter, there’s a privacy form that must be filled out. The site must then be provided with proof of one’s relationship to the deceased as well as a death certificate. Similarly, LinkedIn also requires a death certificate.
Google has an Inactive Account Manager feature to control your account should you pass away. Loved ones can request the account be deleted or they can ask to obtain data. It’s up to google whether they’ll provide access or not.
Making it Easier on Your Loved Ones
If you want to make things simpler for those you love, that’s certainly commendable. Instead of leaving things up to fate, you can include your digital legacy in your advance planning. Options include hiring or assigning a digital executor, utilizing a password manager, or employing various online tools.
If you choose one of the former two options, you’ll need to keep things updated. You can give a digital executor thorough instructions on how your accounts should be handled. However, it might not matter if your login credentials are out of date or inaccurate. If using a password manager, your executor will still need access to that account in order to access others.
Alternatively, there are several online tools designed to store your information and later transfer it to appointed individuals.